10 Lessons Learned From My President

Each President of the United States leaves a legacy. As President Barack Obama enters the last week of his tenure in the White House, his legacy is only just beginning to show itself. But I can say with confidence that these 10 lessons are takeaways that will endure:

10. Never lose hope.

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9. Reading is essential for opening your mind, expanding your worldview, and giving you the depth and breadth to handle an infinite number of situations.

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8. The umbrella is big enough to fit everyone under it.

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7. Grit and resilience are keys to success, whatever you do.

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6. Kindness and respect never go out of style.

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5. Do not be afraid to show your emotions … even if it means crying sometimes.

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4. There are different perspectives to most issues … work hard to understand each one.

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3. Maintain your sense of humor, even under the most trying of times.

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2. Raising your children is one of the most important jobs you will ever have in life. Never lose sight of that.

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And since, as the saying goes, behind every great man there is a great woman … and better yet in this case, beside every great man there is a great woman ….

  1. When they go low, you must go high.

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Thank you, Mr. President and Mrs. Obama.  You have honored the White House and our country with your grace and vision these past eight years.  You will be missed.  Let us return the favor by continuing to stand up for what is right, and doing it with respect and an openness to truly trying to understand all sides of the issues.  We have more in common than not; it is in our best interests to continue and try to move forward together, no matter how difficult and arduous it may be … while at the same time not letting our guard down and failing to speak out against injustice, inequity, and matters that harm the greater good.

Yes, we can. Yes, we did. And, yes, we will again.

~ Kat

The Importance of Holiday Magic

This year, even more than ever, we are in need of finding the magic of the holidays … that magic that helps bridge divides, smooths strained relations, allows people to set aside differences to share in the beauty of the season.

Even without snow on the ground, and the second warmest November on record, Duluth’s Bentleyville is just the place to go to kindle the often-nostalgic feelings that accompany the December holiday season.

Whether you are 2, or 20, or 20 times 4, joy fills the air as you walk through the arches of light, as Christmas classics play over the speakers.  Donations and sponsorships support the free cookies, popcorn, hot cocoa, and fire pits for roasting marshmallows! People from all walks of life come together to watch the lights dance on the 128 foot tall Christmas tree, wait patiently to talk to Santa or Mrs. Claus, or pause for one of the many photo ops.

The year-round evening illumination of Duluth’s lift bridge glows across the bay, taking a back seat to this seasonal festival of lights.

The meandering lit paths give many opportunities to reflect and be grateful — whether wandering with friends, with family, or taking time for solitary reflection. Give thanks for good health, for a roof over our heads, for love, for community. Bentleyville gives a nod to our troops, as well, with Duluth’s own 148th Fighter Wing garnering a special spot in the display.

If only for an evening, let the “Tour of Lights” push the stress and anxiety of the world’s issues to the side … Embrace the magic of the season.

Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge. “It’s Not This Time of Year Without…” is this week’s theme. Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here: It’s Not This Time of Year Without ….

Weekly Photo Challenge: Mirror

Aurora looked into the mirror and liked what she saw, dancing and shimmering along the horizon, with shades of purple and green, as the stars twinkled in appreciation of the sight. Friday night at the cabin on a little lake in the Minnesota northwoods was special, indeed.

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Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge. “Mirror” is this week’s theme. Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here: Mirror.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Happy Place

Hiking along the road near the cabin in the northwoods, autumn’s golden leaves crunching below our feet as our four-legged companions gallop to their heart’s content … up north is my happy place.

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Up North

It’s the place people go to escape,
a place made of cabins, pine trees and lakes.
But no matter how far you drive,
there’s no sign to say “You’ve arrived.”
So just follow your heart ‘til you find,
your special place that brings peace of mind.
As you breathe in the air and unwind,
your cares are all left behind.
It’s no mystery where the northwoods start.
When you’re “up north,”
you’ll know in your heart.

– Suzanne Kindler, 1996

Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.  “Happy Place” is this week’s theme.  Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here.

Happy Third Anniversary (to me)!

Three years ago this week, I took the leap and hit the “publish” button for the first time.  The blog “Travel. Garden. Eat.” entered the blogosphere.  Three years of blogging = 314 posts, 21,118 visitors, and 48,048 views.

As I begin year four of my blogging journey, it is interesting to look back on posts of interest — whether yours or mine.  Some have been shared far and wide, others that I hold dear because of the memories they evoke may have stayed closer to home – it’s all good.  When one first tentatively puts that post out for public consumption, whether the effort is viewed or “liked” holds more importance, but I think over time that becomes less and less a point of attention.  Instead, this blog continues to be my creative outlet, for words and images.

Versailles on a Rainy Day
Versailles on a Rainy Day

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”

~ Anaïs Nin

The topics of traveling, gardening and eating merely serve as a base — life is rich and varied, and I think blogging often provides the opportunity to remind oneself that the little things in life are often the most rewarding.  A walk in the woods can be just as rejuvenating and eye-opening as a journey across the sea.  Our own backyards often yield just as much interest as the backyards of our neighbors far and near.

Beargrass in Glacier National Park
Beargrass in Glacier National Park

The most viewed posts over the past few years reflect that philosophy of interest near and far.  For the five months I blogged in 2012, the posts with the highest views were all in response to Weekly Photo Challenges — a great way to engage bloggers on a wide variety of topics, and  help inspire a little creative stretch from time to time!  The challenges of Big, Renewal, and Everyday Life generated the most traffic that first year.

Buona sera, Trastevere!
Buona sera, Trastevere!

In 2013, traveling and eating both were reflected in the most viewed posts:

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Moving on to 2014, one of the most popular posts for visitors was my visit to the Apostle Islands’ Ice Caves, “It’s Not Too Late for the Party: Day-Tripping to the Apostle Islands Ice Caves.”

Kat in the cold seat
Kat in the cold seat

And, finally, 2015 — a year not over yet, but one in which I finally returned to gardening in “Gardener’s Mecca in Minnesota: An Illustration of the ‘Why’” for the most viewed post this year-to-date.  Interestingly, one of my older posts, “Iceberg Lake Trail ~ Glacier National Park” also has been a popular post this year — it is a favorite travel memory, so always happy to revisit that one!

“A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.”

~ Ansel Adams

Iceberg Lake Trail ~ Glacier National Park
Iceberg Lake Trail ~ Glacier National Park

Thank you to all who have followed along since the first year, as well as those who have joined more recently — all 989 of you (spammers and all — I don’t flatter myself to think that I have almost 1000 engaged followers, but I am grateful and amazed by how many truly interesting and engaging bloggers and readers I have met along the way!).  For a little celebratory fun, I updated the look of the blog, and welcome any feedback you have — Font hard to read? Like the layout? Miss the old look?  All comments welcome.

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Thanks for reading – blog on!

Ciao! ~ Kat